Mniarogekko Chahoua – Mossy master of camouflage
Mniarogekko Chahoua, also known as the Mossy Prehensile Tailed Gecko, is found on the island grouping of New Calendonia. Chahoua inhabit the main island of Grande Terre, and the offshore Isle of Pines. Most commonly found in close proximity to water (rivers, and streams) on the mainland and in the most humid areas available on the Isle of Pines. This nocturnal gecko feeds mostly on fruits, insects and small lizards.
Chahoua from the Isle of Pines, are large geckos with strong limbs, and a long prehensile tails. Females can grow to a weight of up to 100 grams, and males typically max out at around 80g. Camouflage like patterns can be highly variable. Hatchlings are usually varying shades of brown with a whitish tan mask, and black diamonds a row down the center of their backs. These colors change dramatically as they age and adult colors usually begin to appear at about 4 to 6 months of age. Adult base colors range from solid green, to green and brown to black. Overlaying patterns can vary from pink to maroon and some specimens can have crisp white to green lichenous patches over the nape of their necks, and the base of their tails.
Grande Terra Chahoua, are about 25% smaller then their island cousins and most max out at 60 grams or so, males weighing slightly less. They have a shorter snout, than their offshore cousins, giving them an almost “bug-eyed” appearance. Hatchlings are grey to black with the same tan mask wavy bands can sometimes be seen from their shoulders down their backs. There seem to be two distinct lines here in the states at this time.
Mainland Chahoua brought in in the 1990’s were typically dark brown to black with brilliant red patterns, and fine whites potting along the sides.
Animals imported in the early 2000’s, referred to as “Troger line Chahoua”, came in through Europe. Most animals came from Michael Troger’s collection, after his passing, and were said to be collected by Willie Henkel. Most have brown base colors, with lime green to rust red markings. Some of these Chahoua also have the lichenous patches over their napes, and tail bases. These patches usually appear in different shades of green and sometimes faint white.
Due to their affiliation with water in nature, Chahoua seem to have a higher humidity requirement than Rhacodactylus species. Individuals can be comfortably housed in PVC enclosures measuring 24h x 24d x 16w, With a small screen area in the top ( less than 30% of the top). Breeding pairs can be housed in similar style cages measuring slightly larger.
The floor is covered with 1 to 1 1/2″ of a peat/mulch combo which seems to hold humidity best. Cork tubes and flats, along with branches, and artificial vines can be used to furnish the enclosure, with a large faux-stone water dish for drinking, additional humidity. Misting is done 2x per week, only on 1/2 of the enclosure. When maintaining high humidity, it is important that a portion of the cage remain dry, leaving them a place to dry out their skin.
Temp requirements in the summer months should range from 75 to 85, with a 8 to 10 degree drop at night. Winter cooling can drop into the low 70’s in the daytime, with an 8 to 10 degree nighttime drop.
Their captive diet should consist of CGD fed 2to 3 times a week, and lots of insects. Crickets and/or roaches are readily accepted, and should make up at least 50% of their diet. Insects should be gut loaded, and dusted with calcium and a vitamin supplement. Offer as many as they will eat, 2 times a week.
Definitely one of the most personable geckos, Chahoua can be very inquisitive. They will commonly watch you from their cages, and come right down to the feeding area anticipating feeding time. They rarely bite, unless guarding their eggs, and tolerate handling well. Juveniles can be flighty at first, but with patience and gentile handling they usually calm down very quickly.
We find it important to let females reach 2 1/2 years of age before introduction to males. Attempting to breed a female prior to this age, greatly increases the risk of her suffering MBD upon egg production. Males can be safely bred at 1 1/2 years of age.
Newly introduced pairs should be watched for the first few days for aggression, but rarely fight. Pairs can be left together all year long, and can produce from 2 to 6 clutches of 2 eggs with 3 being the norm. A nesting box / humidity chamber can be put in the enclosure to aid in shedding but seldom used for oviposition.
Eggs are deposited at the base of cork tubes, or branches on the surface of the substrate. If sphagnum moss is available, they will sometimes nestle them inside the moss. If the enclosure is kept too dry, eggs laid will desiccate quickly. Calcium requirements also seem very high due to the large calcified eggs they produce. Calcium crash can be seen in females just prior to and after egg laying (seen as a zig zag tail). A calcium dish should be left for gravid females, and will need to be refilled regurarly.
Hatchlings can be started in plastic shoe box enclosures, a few holes can be drilled into the sides to allow oxygen in, but still hold in moisture. Paper towels can be used as cage bedding for hatchlings. Coconut hides, cork pieces, and small branches can be used as enclosure furnishings. A water bowl should be placed in one corner, and the paper towels should be moistened (around the water bowl) to maintain humidity. Keeping the furnishings dry, and 25% of the bottom wet seems to be work much better to maintain humidity than spraying the whole enclosure. Be careful not to let the furnishings wet too much as surface moisture can cause skin infections. Paper towels should be changed 2x per week, and should later be switched to mulch/peat mixture as they grow. They will voraciously accept gut loaded/dusted insects within a few days of hatching. Feed as many as they will eat 2x per week, remove any uneaten crickets the next day. CGD can be offered 2x per week.
The beautiful colors, intricate markings, and friendly nature make Chahoua one of our favorite species.